THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2021
Can you feel pity and sorrow?: Rashaun Weaver was only 14 years old at the time of the killing.
Tessa Majors was only 18. She was a freshman at Barnard. Two years ago, she was stabbed to death in Upper Manhattan's Morningside Park.
This terrible incident returned to the New York Times last week when Weaver, who's now 16, became the third teenager to plead guilty to this terrible murder. The Times reported these facts:
CLOSSON (12/17/21): The three teenagers charged in the crime were middle school classmates who were between the ages of 13 and 14 at the time.
Rashaun Weaver, now 16, was charged as an adult and was the attacker who prosecutors said wielded the knife that killed Ms. Majors in December 2019. In court, Mr. Weaver, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery, admitted to delivering the series of strikes to Ms. Majors’s chest that ended her life.
As part of the deal with prosecutors, Mr. Weaver, who wore a green long-sleeved shirt and face mask in court, also pleaded guilty to two similar robberies.
This was a terrible, heinous act The three assailants were between the ages of 13 and 14.
Can you feel sorrow and pity for Weaver as well as for the young woman he killed? We're prepared to say that we can. The news report also said this:
CLOSSON: Mr. Weaver’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said that his client was “deeply remorseful.”
Mr. Lichtman and prosecutors both noted that Mr. Weaver’s upbringing was marred by struggles. His mother had her first child when she was 13, his father was incarcerated at the time of his birth and several other immediate family members had been convicted of crimes, they said.
“Sometimes I think it gets lost when we talk about all these horrific things. We forget that this doesn’t just happen out of the blue,” Mr. Lichtman said. “It takes a village, so to speak, to make what happened here.”
Our own father, who lived a fascinating life, died when we were 11. He had been sick, and out of the home, for three years before that.
Our mother wasn't an especially skillful raiser of children; her many virtues lay elsewhere. But she wasn't 13 when we were born, and our father wasn't incarcerated when we were brought home.
There but for fortune, we're strongly inclined to say. We can't say we know how we would have fared in the circumstances which seemed to surround this young person, dating perhaps from the first day of his life.
There but for fortune, we're inclined to say. That said, it seems that things had gone very wrong in this young person's life:
CLOSSON (continuing directly): The prosecutors considered Mr. Weaver’s troubled childhood when crafting a sentencing recommendation, Mr. Bogdanos said. But the teenager had also been involved in more than a dozen assaults of counselors and other incidents at his detention center since April 2020, he said, which needed to be weighed as well.
The teenager’s own statements also tied him to the killing. In a recorded conversation with his father, who was in prison, Mr. Weaver said that he stabbed Ms. Majors because “she was hanging on to her phone” as the group tried to steal it, according to the criminal complaint.
His father was still in prison, or possibly he had returned there. We weren't forced to grow up that way. There but for fortune, we have always claimed.
Warning! As we've noted in the past, we feel the same way about Donald J. Trump. We may revisit that concept tomorrow. But should we possibly learn how to oppose in the absence of loathing and hate?
Tessa Majors' loss was a terrible loss. This was a terrible crime.